Georges Seurat’s “Les Posues, Ensemble (Petite Edition),” part of Paul Allen’s $1.5 billion art collection, fetched its highest price ever at Christie’s in May. The painting depicts three nude women in Seurat’s distinctive pointillist style, which the artist produced between 1888 and 1890. Chinese buyer Xin Li won the job: the final price was $149 million, well above the estimate of $100 million. It was one of five works of art by the Microsoft co-founder to reach $100 million. Man Ray’s “Le Violon d’Ingres” (1924), a famous image in which a nude woman’s back is superimposed on the hole of a violin, sold at Christie’s in February for $12.4 million. Coming from a collection of Surrealist art, the sale set a record as the most expensive photograph ever sold, costing $10.5 million. The total was three times the previous public price achieved for a painting in 2011, when Andreas Gursky’s 1999 landscape “Rhine II” sold at Christie’s for $4.3 million. The sale also surpassed the previous record for a Man Ray photograph set in 2017, when an early version of “Noir et Blanche” (1926) sold for $3 million at a Christie’s auction in Paris.
Twenty artist records were broken during the Paul Allen Collection sale in November. American director Andrew Wyeth’s 1980 Day Dream – a scene of a nude woman sleeping on a four-poster bed – was one of the works that sparked a bidding war between Christie’s experts from Asia and the West Coast of the United States . Competition brought the price down to $20 million, ten times the forecast of $2 million. The final price of $23.3 million was more than double Christie’s previous reference price of $10.4 million for Wyeth’s “Erickson” (1973) in 2007.
“The Night Watcher” (2018), a painting by the late Canadian artist Matthew Wong, depicts a vision through a natural landscape. Posthumous attention to the painter, who has drawn comparisons to Henri Matisse and other Impressionists, has seen prices rise on the auction circuit as his work appeared at Sotheby’s in 2020. The record for the artist was raised twice in 2022. The Room” (2017) for $5.3 million, while “The Night Watcher” sold during Sotheby’s “Now” auction a week later for $6 million.